Albert Haynesworth suspension: Mike Shanahan won't say if Redskins will try to recoup money; Jim Haslett criticizes lineman

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 10, 2010; 1:10 AM

Coach Mike Shanahan declined Thursday to say whether the Washington Redskins would attempt to recoup some of the $21 million in bonus money the team paid to suspended defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth in April.

"I'm not exactly sure at this time exactly what we're going to do or what direction we're going to go," Shanahan said. "We just concentrate on the next game at hand, and that'll all take care of itself in time."

Haynesworth was suspended Tuesday for the final four games of the season without pay. The NFL Players Association is expected to appeal the decision as early as this week, but if the suspension stands, Haynesworth will lose at least $847,059 in salary. The bigger sum is the $21 million bonus the team gave Haynesworth in the spring, money the club may argue it deserves back because Haynesworth failed to fully honor his contract.

Owner Daniel Snyder and General Manager Bruce Allen also refused to say Thursday whether the Redskins would seek the money. "We never discuss our football business," Allen said.

Snyder met briefly with reporters at a community event in Bristow on Wednesday for the first time since Haynesworth was suspended. He said he stands by Shanahan's decision.

"I wish it had worked out better," Snyder said. "I wish he played better and everybody played better at this point. Right now we're just trying to win the next game."

At Redskins Park, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett also met with reporters for the first time since Haynesworth was placed on the suspended list, but he had a lot more to say. He echoed themes Shanahan raised in explaining his decision and elaborated on Haynesworth's alleged insubordination and misconduct.

"I don't think I've ever had a player just tell me he didn't want to play 'Okie' defense [the team's base 3-4 alignment] and then later say he didn't want to play nickel versus the run, 'Just play me on third downs,' " Haslett said. "No, I've never had that before.

"And we tried to accommodate him. It's a shame because he's athletic enough. He can do almost anything he wants. Obviously, he didn't want to do it. Good athletes can do a lot of different things. Basketball players - guards can play forwards, they can play different positions. I watch throughout the league; I see wide receivers do the 'Wildcat.' I think to myself, 'If you're a good enough athlete, you can do almost anything you want. You've just got to want to do it.' "

Coaches say Haynesworth resisted the team's desire to change his role in the defense, which served as the heart of a conflict that spanned the past 10 months.

Haslett said he was not directly involved in Shanahan's decision to suspend Haynesworth, but he did have input in the decision to bench Haynesworth last Sunday for the road game against the New York Giants. Shanahan came to Haslett Saturday night to discuss Haynesworth's recent efforts and the defensive coordinator said he certainly understands Shanahan's decision.

"Obviously, if the guy's not willing to do what you want them to do and you're the head coach, and the guy doesn't practice well on Thursday - about as poor as I've ever seen - and then Friday, a so-called illness that he doesn't practice," Haslett said, "then, if I'm the head coach on Saturday, getting ready for Sunday, you've got to make a decision: What's best for the football club?"

Haslett was asked whether the resolution with Haynesworth made him regret the Redskins' switch of defensive philosophies to a 3-4 base. He quickly pointed out that, while playing in a 4-3 base a year ago under then-coordinator Greg Blache - Haynesworth's preferred formation - Haynesworth also chafed.

"I saw a guy who just got $100 million play bad as a three-technique [tackle]," Haslett said. "Then . . . a defensive coordinator left, I saw a guy who blasted him, saying, 'Well, I didn't like the defense. I didn't like the 4-3. I didn't like the way I was used.' So can you ever make the guy happy? I don't know. What do you want?

"My father told me, 'There's things in the world that you're not going to want to do, but if you want to get ahead in the world, you're going to have to do it.' Well, I think we're at that point. Not everybody in the National Football League is going to let Albert just do what he wants on the field. It doesn't work that way," Haslett added. ". . . I mean, he wasn't happy this year with the 3-4. He wasn't happy last year with the 4-3. What else do you want to do? Want to run a 2-5?"

Haslett actually enjoyed a good relationship with Haynesworth but said he hasn't spoken with the two-time all-pro since the suspension because he didn't think it was appropriate for him to do so.

"Do I still like Albert? Yeah, I like Albert. I think he's a talented football player. I really like the guy," he said. "But sooner or later, he's going to have to understand. He's going to have to grow up and understand what's going on."

The team continued its preparations for Sunday's game without Haynesworth. Because he played solely in passing situations, the roster upheaval created by his absence is minimal.

"We're going to use a number of different combinations on third down," Haslett said. "That's really all he played."

Haslett said both Kedric Golston and Anthony Bryant, who replaced Haynesworth in the lineup last Sunday at the Giants, could see time at nose tackle.

"We just go on like normal," he said.

Staff writers Jason Reid and Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.

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